Cybersecurity: Online scams pay off as chance of being caught is barely 1 percent

People who have fallen into a fraud trap when buying clothes or items on trading portals on the internet cannot easily expect to find the culprits. That’s because a suspect is caught in only about 1 percent of fraud cases, according to an analysis by RTL Nieuws based on figures from the Dutch Statistics Office and the police. For experts, it is clear that the only way to fight online fraudsters is through politics. But that is precisely where not enough is being done to protect online consumers.

Every year, 250,000 people fall into the online fraud trap. This means that every day an average of 685 Dutch people are scammed out of their money by fraudsters on web shops or online trading platforms, such as Marktplaats. This is because the perpetrators almost always get away with it, which is partly due to the fact that only a quarter of the victims even report the crime to the police. And even then, most cases remain unsolved after being reported. Nearly 90 percent of reports are not investigated further, as investigations by RTL Nieuws have found.

For online fraudsters, this is a win-win situation, as the risk of getting caught is minimal for perpetrators and they can still make money in the process, explained emeritus professor of cybersecurity Marianne Junger of the University of Twente. “The chance of being caught is not great, so they think they are unobserved. This is a major problem for the police and society,” she told the news channel.

This has also led, among other things, to sales fraud and online purchase has quickly become one of the most common crimes. Jorij Abraham, director of the Global Anti Scam Alliance, sees the responsibility for this primarily in politics. In his opinion, there is a lack of international measures that focus on protecting consumers on the Internet. “These figures are of course unacceptable to victims, but the problem is not with the police, but with politics. You could have seen this coming a mile away,” he told the Dutch news channel.

For Junger and Abraham, it is clear that politics, the judiciary and the police are key players in the fight against online crime. The companies concerned also need to cooperate better with the respective institutions, as was done back then to combat car thefts that burdened the car industry. Because “Crime prevention is everyone’s responsibility,” according to Junger.

The first measure should be to introduce legislation that would make it easier to share data about any fraudsters. Furthermore, the experts recommend that there must be stricter controls on online trading platforms and online stores.

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